Scrooge is stuck in the limbo of the spirit world. He wakes up after the visit from Jacob Marley's ghost, and he's not sure what's going on. The world is dark when it should be light. The clock strikes midnight when it should be noon. Scrooge finds himself in a position of disquiet, mind racing, thinking and thinking and thinking, over and over and over.
It's a pretty good description of the kind of mania that comes with mental illness. The obsessive thoughts. The displaced reality. I've seen this state in my wife more than once. However, Scrooge's disquiet is not really due to mental illness. (At least, I've never interpreted A Christmas Carol in that light. However, Scrooge does have visions of spirits that could be psychotic hallucinations. He does have an altered sense of time. At the end of the book, his frenetic state of joy could definitely be attributed to a hypomanic bipolar episode. Hmmmmmm.) Scrooge's disquiet is due to fear. He's afraid of the upcoming appearance of the Ghost of Christmas Past. He's afraid of the possibility that he should "retire to Bedlam," as he says earlier. (Bedlam is short for "Bethlem Royal Hospital," which was a London hospital that was first to specialize in treating mental illnesses.) And I think he's afraid of the prospect of change, for that's what Jacob Marley wants him to do: change his ways.
I could go with any of the above explanations for Scrooge's disquiet. I, myself, have experienced the kind of racing thoughts described by Dickens in the above paragraph. It's not fun. Usually, I fall into that pattern of thought when I'm worried or anxious about something: job, bills, money, the past, the present, the future, a mole on my calf, my weight, my house, my attic, my garage, the clunk in my car engine. That's just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I could go on, but that would take way too much time. You get the idea.
My point is that Scrooge can't change a thing that's going to happen to him. The ghosts are going to show up. Jacob Marley is pretty clear about this fact. The only thing Scrooge has any power over is his reaction to the ghosts. He could cower under his bed or soil himself, which would be my reaction to random spirits appearing at my bedside in the middle of the night. Or he could roll with the punches and go for some ghostly strolls and obtain some ghostly wisdom. Scrooge chooses the latter.
I can't change most of the things on my list of worries. Sure, I could go on a diet. Clean my garage or attic. Take my car to a mechanic. None of those things will really alleviate my worries. I'll just be thinner with anxiety. I'll have an attic or garage to have a breakdown in. I'll have a car to drive to my therapy appointments. But I'll still have worries.
Worry is about control. I'm a control freak. (I'm also a chocolate freak, book freak, poetry freak, and movie freak, since I'm making a confession.) Control means happiness, at least in my book. Of course, a lot of people would argue this point with me, including my therapist and pastor. Scrooge's miserly ways are all about control, as well. He was pretty wounded as a young person. Abandoned by his father. He doesn't want to be wounded again, so he pushes people away and collects wealth to protect himself. Of course, all he's done is create the illusion of control. Jacob Marley tears away that illusion. But I'm OK with the illusion of control. It calms me down, makes me feel safe and secure, like a warm blankie. Marley can stay away from my skewed view of reality.
As long as Saint Marty has the illusion of control, he can sleep well.
|Calvin has some control issues|